Meet the alumna who helped score FIFA World Cup 2026 for Philly

March 21, 2023

Alumna and former University Trustee Meg Kane, ’03, played a pivotal role in bringing the world’s largest sporting event to her hometown.

Do you remember where you were on Thursday, June 16, 2022, at exactly 5:44 p.m.? Meg Kane, ’03, does. In fact, she will never forget it. 

“It was probably the proudest moment I’ve ever had,” Kane said. 

That’s when Kane learned FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, had selected Philadelphia as one of 16 host cities for the 2026 World Cup™ men’s soccer tournament—to be played in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Surrounded by thousands of soccer fans and city dignitaries at a pep rally at LOVE Park, Kane remembers a euphoric feeling sweeping over her. 

“To share that moment with the city and to know how much this meant to so many people, it was an absolute win and it’s something our team feels a great deal of pride in,” said Kane, who earned an undergraduate degree in communication from La Salle in 2003 and last year concluded her decade-long tenure as a University Trustee, becoming the first woman to serve as the Board’s Vice Chair. 

Since November 2019, Kane has served as the manager of bid coordination and external affairs for Philadelphia Soccer 2026 and was recently named Host City Executive for the organization, responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the organization and acting as the primary liaison to FIFA. She and other members of this civic committee steered the city’s bid process and campaign to bring the world’s largest soccer tournament to Philadelphia. 

Kane is president and chief executive officer of Signature 57, a Philadelphia-based strategic communications firm she founded in 2021. She previously served on leadership teams that developed strategic communications and planned for the 2015 World Meeting of Families, headlined by Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia. Similarly, for Philadelphia Soccer 2026, she applied her expertise in media relations strategy, event planning, messaging, and positioning to help bring another global event to her hometown. 

Now that Philadelphia has secured its place as a World Cup host, Kane and the team have turned their attention toward the planning stage. Less than a week following the major announcement, she visited New York City for meetings with FIFA representatives and in December 2022, she visited Doha, Qatar as a member of the FIFA Observer Programme during the 2022 World Cup. Planning for 2026 is actively underway.  

On May 18, the brand and logo for the local events were unveiled by FIFA and Philadelphia’s 2026 men’s World Cup local organizing committee, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Check out our Q+A with Kane for more on Philadelphia’s selection as a World Cup host: 

How and when did you get involved with Philadelphia Soccer 2026? 

Kane: “The city bid began in 2016-17, initially helmed by the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB) and its PHL Sports division, as part of the United 2026 bid to bring the World Cup to North America. We learned in 2018 that the bid had been awarded to the U.S., Mexico, and Canada, and then things pivoted to a bidding process for potential host cities. I became involved in late 2019 and, at the time, we thought the process would conclude no later than December 2020. Of course, that didn’t happen. The COVID-19 pandemic delayed a significant amount of the bidding process as well as advanced planning, leading to where we stand today.” 

What was the first order of business, when you are trying to convince FIFA on Philadelphia as a host? 

Kane: “It’s important to introduce Philadelphia to individuals who don’t know the city. Philadelphia consistently delivers on the surprise element—with delegations who come in to see us—whether its FIFA or U.S. Soccer, or any entity. Outsiders don’t expect us to have the arts, culture, lifestyle, amenities, and hospitality that we offer. There is a “Wow!” factor when people experience Philadelphia for the first time and we leaned into that. Perhaps – most importantly, though, we didn’t just tell FIFA we wanted to win this bid – we made them feel it. We elevated our business community, which was incredibly committed to bringing this event here. We introduced them to our partners in this extremely collaborative bid process, including the Philadelphia Eagles and Philadelphia Union, and we were able to demonstrate our capacity for hosting a spectacular event.” 

What does this mean for Philadelphia? 

Kane: “Our World Cup bid, for me, has been top of mind for three years. It’s an ever-present thought because you know that winning this bid transforms the trajectory of the city. It turbocharges our tourism and hospitality industries as we come out of the worst of the pandemic. It creates jobs. It places Philadelphia on a global stage. When the stakes are this high, you evaluate all it means for us and the city, you view it as the rising tide to lift all other boats, so to speak. It’s also an opportunity for the entire Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, presenting a once-in-a-generation opportunity to support the rise in participation and popularity of soccer.” 

As we await the 2026 World Cup, what’s next for you? 

Kane: “Our work, which has truly been a team effort, is far from over. That being said, the moment we learned of Philadelphia’s selection, bringing the city to the world stage, it’s something I will cherish always. Maybe, for many around the world, their only conduit to Philadelphia is “Rocky”—a movie… a fictional character. Now, we can showcase who and what we are, position ourselves as a place where someone might go to college, or start a career, start a family, or start a business. It’s a moment for us to introduce Philadelphia in a new way to people who may have never considered us. There’s plenty of work for us, between now and 2026, and we’re just getting started.” 

—Christopher A. Vito